The state of the Union is not strong

Economic growth has been anemic. Household income is down. Labour force participation is the lowest in decades. Barack Obama's legacy is dismal, and the state of the Union is not at all strong

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His legacy is nothing to smirk about
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Daniel J. Mitchell
On 22 January 2015 08:50

Watching politicians give speeches, such as Obama’s State of the Union address, is an occupational hazard when you work at a think tank.

Which is why, in the past, I’ve heartily recommended the State-of-the-Union Bingo game developed by Americans for Tax Reform.

But I was in New York City for a television program about the President’s address, so I had to pretend I was an adult and pay attention to the speech.

That being said, the silver lining to that dark cloud is that the folks at U.S. News and World Report gave me an opportunity to add my two cents to an online debate on whether the President was correct to assert that the state of the union is strong.

In my contribution, I combined some dismal economic indicators and bad policy developments to argue that America could – and should – be doing much better.

Here are the bullet points from my article.

By the way, I need to make one correction. I didn’t realize the 2013 data on median household income had been released, and it turns out that there was a slight increase that year. So while the average household is more than $2000 poorer than when Obama took office, it’s not true that there’s been a decline every single year.

But that goof notwithstanding, I think my concluding remarks are spot on.

"The bottom line is that the State of the Union is not strong. We’re suffering from anemic growth and income stagnation because of an ever-rising burden of taxes, spending and regulation. Yes, the president was right when he noted that we’ve created more jobs than Europe and Japan, but that’s hardly a big achievement since those nations have traveled even further in the wrong direction with statist policies."

In other words, what matters most, in terms of prosperity, is our long-run growth rate. And this is where Obama’s policies (like Bush’s policies) have hurt the country.

P.S. If you agree with my analysis, feel free to vote in the online debate and give me an “up arrow.” If you disagree with what I wrote, by contrast, I’m sure you have more important things to do than casting a vote.

P.P.S. I realize I’m being pedantic, but the two cartoons included in this post may be amusing, but they should have focused on the underlying disease of too much spending (particularly the problem of entitlement programs) rather than highlighting the symptom of red ink.

Daniel J. Mitchell, a long standing contributor to The Commentator, is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, the free-market, Washington D.C. think tank. His articles are cross-posted on his blog by agreement

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